Only 12 years old at the time of her death, Sadako Sasaki was one of the many victims of the atomic bomb that hit Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. Although she did not die immediately from the explosion, Sasaki developed leukemia as a result of radiation exposure.
Now, the Kauai Performing Arts Center will tell Sasaki’s story and others through a play she inspired named “Peace on Your Wings.”
After her diagnosis, Sasaki stayed in the Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital, where she heard a legend that says whoever folds 1,000 paper cranes will be granted a wish. As hope and inspiration filled Sasaki, she worked to fold the paper birds.
“Her wish was to have peace,” said the play’s co-writer, Laurie Rubin. “She was close with all the kids in the hospital and encouraged them to fold paper cranes … she unknowingly started this movement of folding paper cranes for peace.”
Although there is no exact count of how many cranes Sasaki created, it’s believed that she surpassed her goal of 1,000 and continued to create more paper cranes until her death.
After her death, many of Sasaki’s friends commissioned to have a monument built in honor of her and all the children who died from the atomic bomb. Teachers and students from Sasaki’s school donated money to her friends and the statue was built.
The monument in Hiroshima depicts a statue of Sasaki holding a paper crane with an inscription that reads, “This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace in the world.”
In addition to Sasaki’s story, the play will encompass tales about the lives of teenagers who are experiencing changes in their lives.
“We have students from 6 to 18, and when we choose repertoire for them, there aren’t a lot of repertoire for youth … our students were so talented, and we wanted to create a story for their talent … as a result, what was created was greater than we ever imagined,” said Rubin. “I’d like them (the audience) to experience the power of what these youth can do … and to enjoy the immense talent these kids have.”
The play will be 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 25, and is directed by Cari Lee. The play will also feature music by Jenny Taira and music by Rubin. Tickets are $10 for students and $15 for adults.